Bout of Books Day 6: Updates and Mini-Challenge

My week has ended up being absolutely nuts, and I’m so glad that I’ve had such great books to look forward to to help keep me sane. On Saturday, I finally was able to make it to the library to restock on books for the weekend–I went into the challenge with too little preparation and didn’t expect to read as much as I have been. Next time, I’m definitely going to prepare better and make a stack of books ahead of time! At the library, I checked out:

I read Enclave by Ann Aguirre earlier in this challenge, and a dark, fast-paced YA dystopia was a really great genre to go with–so I got both sequels to check out. Enclave takes place mainly in the tunnels of the subway in post-apocalyptic New York City; it’s a closely written novel with a suffocating, immutable society of people at its heart that rapidly expands toward the end when the main character finally is expelled to the surface. I was skeptical of Outpost because it begins in a very different setting: a walled town that has reverted to pre-modern ways in order to protect itself from the damage done by the past, and where the characters I loved in Enclave have a hard time fitting in due to their violent ways. I read the first hundred pages of Outpost on Day 6, and was pleasantly surprised that the new premise is still working really well.

I also finished Saga: Volume 5 on Day 6! This brings the number of completed tasks for Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge up to 3, and it’s only the beginning of January. This next installment of Saga was absolutely fantastic–if you’re skeptical of graphic novels, like I used to be, I’d highly recommend this series as a starting point. It has humor, emotion, creativity, and beautiful artwork. I had actually really disliked the fourth volume, but Volume 5 brought it back to the amazingness I was used to, and now I’m anxious for Volume 6.

Mini-Challenge: The Comfy Reading Spot

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For this mini-challenge hosted by Once Upon a Chapter, here’s my comfy reading spot! When it’s not warm enough to read outside in the sunshine or on a beach, and not cold enough to read in a hot bath, I like to read curled up on my couch.

I’m loving this reading challenge and excited for Day 7.

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Most Anticipated Books of 2016

I’m still going strong with Bout of Books (despite the fact that this week has been absolutely insane!), but I’m taking a brief pause with the updates for a very important post that I need to make before we get too far into the new year: my most anticipated books of 2016! I feel like there are fewer books that I genuinely can’t wait for this year compared to last year, but there are still a decent number of books that I am ridiculously excited for. Here they are!

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (out on Jan 26th)- I discovered io9.com a few years ago, and it’s become a major source of science fiction and fantasy book recommendations for me, thanks to editor-in-chief Charlie Jane Anders. I haven’t read any of her fiction yet, but this book sounds like an intriguing and relevant hybrid of genres centered on best friends whose paths have been divided into magic and technology and who have to reunite to help alter their world.

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (out on Aug 16) – N.K. Jemisin is one of my absolute favorite fantasy authors. She’s unique, and her books have immense emotional power as well as unfathomably impressive worldbuilding. Her book The Fifth Season was one of my favorites of 2015, and since its first sentence announced the end of the world, I’m anxious to see how its sequel will explain and expand on the apocalypse. It’s hard to discuss this one without revealing spoilers, but I’m especially excited to see how she handles what will hopefully be an expanded role for the rock/human beings we met in the first volume of the trilogy.

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (published January 5th) – Samantha Hunt is being compared to Kelly Link, one of my favorite writers, for her new novel, which sounds like a combination of ghost story and family saga with dual narratives. I’m a huge sucker for genre-benders, and can’t wait to see if this is as unique as I hope it will be.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (out on May 3rd) – this is the sequel to last year’s A Court of Thorns and Roses, a mishmash of fairy-tale retelling and fae lore that I had no idea I would enjoy so much. To summarize (SPOILER ALERT) Feyre, a huntress who detests the fae for what they’ve done to the human lands, falls for Tamlin, a fae lord, without meaning to, and then ends up rescuing him from an evil queen. In doing so, she strikes a bargain with the mysterious fae lord Rhysand, who was probably the most entertaining part of the first book–and who, it seems, is going to feature heavily in book 2. I’m thinking love triangle? I love a good YA love triangle…I know a lot of people are tired of them, but when they’re done well, it’s a huge guilty pleasure for me.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (out on September 22nd, no cover yet) – why isn’t this book out sooner??? Six of Crows was one of the most ridiculously fun YA books I’ve read in years, and it ended on a huge cliffhanger. While I love each of the six central characters, I really can’t wait to hear more from emotionally damaged, brilliant Kaz, leader of their criminal team.

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews (out on September 27th, no cover  yet) – apparently September is going to be an awesome reading month! Kate Daniels is one of my favorite series, and this ninth volume is going to be the crescendo leading up to what I can only anticipate will be a monumental showdown in book 10 between Kate and her godlike father, Roland. Andrews’ characters are realistic and likable in the face of a hostile world torn between magic and technology, and Kate and Curran have become one of my all-time favorite book couples for their unwavering support of each other.

I’m sure there are more amazing books coming out this  year, but these are the ones I’m currently obsessing over. What are you most excited to read in 2016?

Bout of Books Day 3 Update and Mini-Challenge

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It’s Day 3 of Bout of Books and, even though in my last post I mentioned that I was attempting to avoid the library and knock books off of my TBR pile instead, I did hit the library today. (Oops.) I was looking for Volume 5 of Saga, and was extremely disappointed that it wasn’t there even though the library web site promised me it was–I hate it when that happens! So I requested it and hopefully it’ll be in before the challenge ends.
To help cope with my disappointment in not finding Saga, I checked out this YA book that was recommended to me by an author I follow on Goodreads:
Enclave (Razorland, #1)
It’s a dark, post-apocalyptic type of read, which I haven’t read in awhile and definitely fits my reading mood. So far I really like the gritty tone and the protagonist, although I hate that her name is Deuce. Seriously? Deuce? The author couldn’t have picked literally any other name at all?
Mini-Challenge 3: Rainbows!
For this challenge, I made a book rainbow with a few of my more colorful book covers:
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For part 2 of the challenge, here’s an acrostic of ROYGBIV with some of my favorite authors (except for Banana Yoshimoto–I haven’t read anything by her yet, but I’m really interested in her book The Lake, which sounds intriguing.).
R – Rowell, Rainbow
O – Orwell, George
Y – Yoshimoto, Banana
G – Gaiman, Neil
B – Byrne, Monica
I – Ishiguro, Kazuo
V – Vandermeer, Jeff
Happy reading to everyone!

Bout of Books Day 2 Update and Mini-Challenge

It’s day 2 of the Bout of Books challenge and so far i have 2 books completed! Yay! Yesterday I finished Landline by Rainbow Rowell, which was sort of a cozy winter read, and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an ebook version of a speech she gave about feminism.

I’m also in the middle of 2 other books:

The PassionThe Just City

I’m liking the challenge so far for the extra reading motivation–what I’m struggling with is my natural instinct to read library or ebooks for fast-paced reads. One of my 2016 goals was to decrease my TBR shelf, and that’s never going to happen if I keep hitting the library or going trigger-happy with Amazon one-click.

Here’s my entry for the Would You Rather? challenge hosted by Writing My Own Fairytale–this looked like a fun way for me to start participating in the mini-challenges during Bout of Books!

  1. Would you rather:
    Lend books to someone who dog-ears pages or to someone who reads with cheesy Cheetos fingers?

Ew. Definitely dog-earing pages. I HATE food on my books.

2. Would you rather:
Be able to meet one character of your choice or meet one author of your choice?

Such a hard question! I’d love to meet so many of both. If I was allowed to date one character…but that wasn’t the question. I think I’d meet one author if I had the choice–but which one?? Neil Gaiman, Ilona Andrews, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Margaret Atwood would all be great contenders.

3. Would you rather:
Never be allowed in a book store again or never be allowed in a library again?

What a mean question! Can I still buy books online? Or take out library ebooks online? OK, I’ll stop looking for loopholes…I guess I’d choose to never be allowed in a library again 😦

4. Would you rather:
Have to choose one of your favorite characters to die in their book or have to pick one of your favorite couples to break up in their book?

I’d have to go with die. I hate when fictional couples break up. For some reason I find it easier to handle character deaths.

5. Would you rather:
Be required to read Twilight once a year for the rest of your life or The Scarlet Letter once a year for the rest of your life?

Embarrassingly, I’d choose Twilight. I first read it in high school and thought it was a fun book. I’m team Jacob, of course, and I feel like as long as you don’t think of it as a model for your personal relationships it’s an entertaining read. I’ve never read The Scarlet Letter, but I have this feeling that I’d find it boring and preachy. I should pick it up someday, though.

2015: My Reading Year in Review

2015 was a great reading year for me. I branched out into different genres while digging deeper into genres and authors I know I love. My top ten list for the year contains books that will become some of my all-time favorites (see my earlier post!). And, here, I’ll attempt to organize some stats about my reading year for the first time ever!

Total number of books read: 73

Total number of pages read: 23,167

Longest book read:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (722 pgs)

Shortest book read: (technically a short story)

Forbid the Sea by Seanan McGuire (20 pgs)

Average book length: 317 pgs

Most popular book I read this year (according to Goodreads): The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, with 481,331 other readers

Least popular book I read this year (according to Goodreads): Verses by Ani DiFranco, with 440 other readers

Average rating: 3.3 stars

Number of live author events attended: 3 (Kelly Link, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Dinaw Mengestu) (all were awesome)

Number of states I purchased books in: 4 (Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Louisiana)

Number of library used book sales attended: probably around 10. I tried to count, but I lost track.

Number of books I bought: infinity, approximately

Number of audiobooks I listened to: 4

Plays I attended (plays are similar to books…): 3: Book of Mormon, Twelfth Night, Spring Awakening

 

meta-chart

meta-chart(1)Reading Challenges:

✓Participated in Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon

✓Read more than 60 books

✓Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

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✓Colorful Book Covers Challenge: read 3 books for each color

Red Cover
The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2) by Samantha Shannon A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas Me Before You (Me Before You, #1) by Jojo Moyes

Orange Cover
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniels, #5.5) by Ilona Andrews Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2) by Ilona Andrews The Martian by Andy Weir

Yellow Cover
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler The Sixth Extinction An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Green Cover
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Fate's Edge (The Edge, #3) by Ilona Andrews All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost A Novel by Lan Samantha Chang

Blue Cover
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link Perdido Street Station (Bas-Lag, #1) by China Miéville

Purple Cover
Fracture Me (Shatter Me, #2.5) by Tahereh Mafi Steel's Edge (The Edge, #4) by Ilona Andrews Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan

Pink Cover
The City & the City by China Miéville Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Black Cover
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter Small Gods (Discworld, #13) by Terry Pratchett Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

White Cover
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Gray Cover
The Heir (The Selection, #4) by Kiera Cass Smoke and Mirrors Short Fictions and Illusions by Neil Gaiman A Red-Rose Chain (October Daye, #9) by Seanan McGuire

Brown Cover
Forbid the Sea (October Daye, #0.4) by Seanan McGuire Anansi Boys (American Gods, #2) by Neil Gaiman Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Colorful Cover
Euphoria by Lily King The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Here’s to even more awesome reading in 2016!

Bout of Books Reading Challenge!

 Bout of Books 15 is COMING!

One of my reading goals for 2016 is to participate in more reading challenges, so I’m kicking off the year with a week-long, low-pressure reading challenge: Bout of Books. I heard about this challenge after I participated in the Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon last year and was looking for similar challenges. So, while I’m still working on compiling my breakdown of my reading in 2015 (spoiler alert: there will be pie charts!) I’ll be working on reading more books than usual this week. Let me know if you guys are participating as well!

Here’s more information about the challenge:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

My Top Ten Books of 2015!

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I love making book lists (as is very obvious from this blog) and one of my favorite lists to make every year is the top ten books I’ve read over the past year. To be clear, these weren’t all published in 2015 (although a couple of them were). So, here they are–my favorite reads of 2015, some of which will join the all-time favorite book list or the list of authors that

1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – 5 stars

I’m typically more of a science fiction/fantasy reader, but my number-one read of 2015 turned out to be an intensely relevant realistic fiction book. Americanah is about race, identity, alienation, and finding your place in the world–and it’s also a love story. It’s beautiful and thought-provoking, and I plan to read one of Adichie’s earlier books, Half of a Yellow Sun, in 2016.

2. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – 5 stars

Another realistic fiction read! Although technically it’s less realistic than most, since it does deal with a family that raises a chimpanzee as a child. It’s a premise that doesn’t seem like it could be taken seriously, but it was the most heart-wrenching book I read this year. Told from the perspective of one of the family’s human children who is in college years after the experiment that brought Fern, the chimpanzee, into her family’s life, I dare you to read this book and not cry. It makes you think about ethics and what it means to be human, and the ways in which our families shape us.

3. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – 5 stars

I’m a huge N.K. Jemisin fan and have read and loved both of her previous series (the Inheritance trilogy and the Dreamblood duology), so the first book in her new series was an instant buy for me when it came out this summer. Her worldbuilding is so impressive–her planet of successive disaster events and earth-mages is intricately planned, and none of the three separate stories told within the book went in the directions I’d predicted. It was a perfect creative fantasy, and I’m anxious for book 2 to come out next summer.

4. Ragnarök The End of the Gods by A.S. Byatt Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by A.S. Byatt – 5 stars

I was really not expecting to love this book the way I did. It was a random find at a library book sale that turned out to be part of the Canongate Myths series. It’s a testament to the power of myth, and deals with a young child in England during World War II reading Norse mythology, which helps her to better comprehend the horrors of war.

5. Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – 4.5 stars

One of two absolutely fantastic YA reads this year. Six of Crows is an adventure that’s also moving, it’s exciting but it also really makes you care about each of its characters. In particular, Kaz, the mysterious gang leader at the heart of the book’s caper, is one of my favorite characters of the year. It’s been described as a magical Ocean’s Eleven, and that’s not too far off. I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself, but I can’t wait for book 2 to come out in 2016 and I really hope all of the characters find what they’re looking for.

6. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – 4.25 stars

Carry On is a special, special book. It’s a love letter to Harry Potter that doesn’t hesitate to point out the book’s flaws. It’s also a really beautiful YA romance, one of the best I’ve ever read. I read this one during the Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon, and I’m glad that I had planned in advance to spend all day reading that book, or else I definitely would have canceled whatever plans I’d had and done it anyways.

7. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – 4.25 stars

Super creative fantasy/scifi/horror that managed to be both disturbing and hilarious.

8. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – 4.25 stars

Beautifully written book taking place right before, during, and after a flu pandemic and celebrating the importance of art.

9. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – 4.25 stars

It took me way too long to get to this book–I loved the creative structure and was so impressed that the author was able to inhabit so many different voices.

10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami – 4 stars

Haunting and beautifully written. The pacing was strange, but the book had so many moments of beauty, and the ending was perfectly done.

I write about nontraditional beach reads for nontraditional readers